Title

Age Differences in Processing Strategies of Emotionally Difficult Trade-off Decisions

Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Developmental

First Advisor

Yiwei Chen

Abstract

The present study explored age differences in emotionally difficult trade-off decisions and the underlying mechanism of the age-related effects. Forty younger adults and 40 older adults finished two decision tasks (i.e., purchasing a car vs. choosing a physician). They were randomly assigned to either the high trade-off difficulty condition or the low trade-off difficulty condition for both decision tasks. MouselabWEB software was used to trace participants' decision making process.

Results showed that older adults were more likely to use attribute-based processing strategies compared with younger adults in the high trade-off difficulty condition for both tasks. On the other hand, younger adults were more likely to use alternative-based processing strategies compared with older adults in the high trade-off difficulty condition. In the car decision task, the retrospective negative emotion instead of cognitive ability mediated the age-related effects in processing strategies in the high trade-off difficulty condition.